Maya's 2 Powers of Veiling & Projecting / Why Different Spiritual Paths? (9)


Session 9 elaborates metaphors to help Vedānta student “see” with added clarity, definitions of: Self, Dharma, Yoga, Ignorance and Māyā. It's purpose is to reconcile Jñāna Yoga (Self-Knowledge; for contemplative personalities) and Karma Yoga (for Active personalities), and why they're actually equally important for a Spiritual aspirant.


  1. 4 Personality Types: Physical > Emotional > Intellectual > Spiritual

    A human being predominantly assumes one of the four personalities, depending upon his or her identification with that particular equipment.

    (1) Physical being: Lives largely at the level of the sense organs. He is happy when the organs are ‘fed’ properly and sorrowful when they are ‘starved’.

    He is totally dependent upon the environment like any animal. Such a person has no capacity to experience emotional joys or intellectual satisfaction.

    (2) Emotional being: Has emotions and feelings, which are superior to sense gratification. A person dwelling in the realm of emotions easily sacrifices his physical needs since the mind thereby experiences a higher quality of joy and satisfaction.

    For example, a physical person gets satisfaction out of a sense object only when the sense organ actually contacts it whereas an emotional person finds greater satisfaction in giving the same sense object to someone whom he or she loves, even though he has the choice to physically enjoy the object.

    (3) Intellectual being: The individual who possesses an intellectual ideal. Such a person will easily sacrifice physical and emotional needs for the sake of an ideal which he cherishes.

    By doing so, he enjoys a far superior state of contentment and joy than he would have gained by catering to the other two lower personalities. The lives of all revolutionaries, the joyous sufferings of the martyrs are all vivid examples.

    (4) Spiritual being: The fourth variety of human beings is the ‘spiritual being’, whose attention is always centred round the Conscious Principle which is the prime mover of all activities of the physical, mental, and intellectual levels.

    Once a person has learnt the art of concentrating upon the God Principle within, even while he is acting in the world, he will not get involved in, or agitated by, the varied activities. Consequently, such a person remains ever equanimous and peaceful even while interacting amidst the changing phenomena of the world.

  2. What is Dharma (other then duty and responsibility)?

    The term ‘ Dharma' is one of the most intractable terms in Hindu philosophy. Derived from the Sanskrit root ‘dhṛ' to uphold, sustain, support-it denotes ‘ that which holds together the different aspects and qualities of an object into a whole'.

    Ordinarily, Dharma has been translated as religious code, as righteousness, as a system of morality, as duty, as charity, etc.

    But the original Sanskrit term has a special connotation of its own which is not captured by any one of these renderings. The best rendering of this term Dharma is ‘the Law of Being' meaning ‘that which makes a thing or being what it is'.

    For example, it is the Dharma of the fire to burn, of the sun to shine, etc . Dharma means, therefore, not merely righteousness or goodness; it indicates the essential nature of anything, without which it cannot retain its independent existence.

    For example, a cold dark sun is impossible, as heat and light are the Dharmas of the sun. Similarly, if we are to live as truly dynamic men/woman in the world, we can only do so by being faithful to our true nature (svadharma), and the Gītā explains ‘to me my Dharma'.

  3. Define Real / Unreal

    Unreal: That which was not in the past and which will not be in the future, but that which seemingly exists only in the present is called the ‘ unreal'. (CH2 verse 16)

    Real: that which defies all changes and remains the same in all the periods of time-past, present and future. (CH2 verse 16)

  4. What are 2 definitions of Yoga?

    samatvaṁ yoga ucyate: Evenness of mind is called Yoga (2.48)

    yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam: Skill in action is Yoga (2.48) (“Skill” will be explained in Session 10. It's often misinterpreted).

  5. How does Maya express itself in persons (Jiva) life?

    At the intellectual level, māyā expresses itself as a film of doubt and hesitation in our understanding or experiencing of the Self within us. This expression of māyā is the ‘veiling power' (āvaraṇa-ṣakti).

    Due to this mist of ignorance that envelops the intellect when it is unconscious of the Spiritual Reality behind it, the mind starts projecting forth the world of the ‘not-self' (anātman) and creates two firm ideas that:

    (a) ‘the world is true' (satyatva), and

    (b) that ‘I am nothing other than the projected world ‘(anātmabuddhi).

    This is māyā's expression as ‘projecting-power' (vikṣepa-sakti). (2.52)

  6. What is symbolism of Arjuna & Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad Gītā?

    Arjuna = jīva (ego, believes hence feels it's seperate from everything else)

    Śrī Kṛṣṇa = pure Sattvic discriminative intellect (not Tamasic/Rajasic)

    Kauravas = forces of adharma (Immorality. The selfish, immature, childish, greedy part of Jīva's.)

    Pāṇḍavas = forces of dharma (morality / virtue / doing what's right)

  7. What is the ego? And what keeps it alive?

    The Self, getting reflected in the intellect, the body and the senses is the ‘ego'. It is the ego which is a victim of the world of objects, feelings and ideas. To this ego belong all the sad destinies of life as well as its fleeting thrills of acquisition and possession. (2.11)

    What keeps the ego alive? Refer to video for wick/wax metaphor which provides deeper understanding how Vāsanā and Ego work together.

  8. Why is the Self ‘unknowable', and what does this mean?

    The Self is described as ‘unknowable' (aprameya).

    Does that mean that the Self ever remains unknown? By qualifying the Self as ‘unknowable' it is not, in any sense, intended to indicate that the Supreme Self is ‘unknown'.

    The term ‘unknowable' is only meant to express that it is not knowable through the usual organs of perception. (2.18)

    Video: 45:20-49:20

  9. When has one ‘attained' Yoga?

    śrutivipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niścalā
    samādhāvacalā buddhistadā yogamavāpsyasi

    When your intellect, though perplexed by what you have heard, shall stand immovable and steady in the Self; then you shall attain Self-Realisation.

    The mind gets agitated mainly due to the flooding in of the ever-new rush of stimuli from the outer world. Sense organs are the antennae through which the world's tickling signals creep in and disturb the mental-pool.

    One is considered as having attained Yoga only when one, even in the midst of enjoying sensuous pleasures, and even while the sense organs are letting in a flood of stimuli, does not get at all disturbed in one's inner serenity and equipoise. (2.53)

  10. How does ignorance express itself (for Jiva)?

    Ignorance (avidyā), when it functions in the intellect, expresses itself as desires. When the desires, which are nothing other than the ‘ignorance', function in the mental zone, they express themselves as thoughts. These thoughts, when they express in the outer world, become actions. (3.4)

  11. Example of applying Karma Yoga in real life (Continues in Session 10)

    Video: 1:00h 31 sec.

Download visual mind map of this session. Text used in class is from Holy Gītā.

26 June 2018


  1. How can moksha be a goal ? Since achieving a goal would imply applying effort which would mean that moksha is separate from me. That would imply duality.

    1. Greetings Sir Chinmay.

      Glad to answer…

      This kind of argument (which I heard countless times) is sourced in Neo-Advaita which has nothing to do with traditional Indian Advaita Vedanta (Upaniṣads).

      Argument sounds sophisticated, yet it’s denying common sense understanding of life.

      To learn how to drive a car, we remove car-drive ignorance. That’s a pursuit. A goal. An endeavor. An EFFORT on your part.

      To learn Hindi, one needs to remove Hindi ignorance. So you go to a Hindi speaking class. That’s a pursuit. A goal. An endeavor. An EFFORT on your part.

      To remove ignorance of self, one needs to gain self-knowledge. That’s a pursuit. A goal. An endeavor. An EFFORT on your part.

      Per Vedas, there’s 4 puruṣarthās in life:


      What does puruṣārtha mean? [1] Goal (object of pursuit). [2] effort

      Most spend all TIME, ENERGY, EFFORT in first 3. Life after life.

      Slowly, as the person sees the limitations, the eye starts to move towards understanding a bigger reality of life (IE: Mokṣa).


      In stage of ignorance, mokṣa is considered a PURSUIT (goal/intention/effort).

      When successfully removed ignorance, then mokṣa can no longer be considered a GOAL, but the reality.

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